With summer upon us and Wimbledon fever just around the corner, many more people will be playing tennis. Whether you are a regular player or someone who has been inspired to take it up recently, it’s important to know how to stay fit and injury free.
Competitive tennis players tend to end up with overuse injuries, such as “tennis elbow” or wrist injuries. Meanwhile for non-competitive tennis players, it is likely to be a lack of fitness or poor technique that leads to injuries such as sprained ankles, shoulder pain, calf strains and stress fractures.
This is a problem that occurs around the elbow and is usually because of overuse of the muscle that helps the wrist to extend or bend it backwards. This is also the muscle that takes the brunt of the impact of the ball on the racquet. Another issue might be the wrong grip size of your racquet.
To prevent tennis elbow you should aim to strengthen this muscle and the other arm muscles around it with gym work. Make sure you warm up the arm muscles before each game and stretch them out afterwards.
If you end up with tennis elbow you will most likely be advised to rest. Sports massage can also help as can taping with RockTape.
This is usually a problem with over-use and due to poor strength and conditioning. In particular, the rotator cuff muscles (the ones that keep the shoulder in the socket) need to be kept in good shape.
If you carry on playing tennis when shoulder muscles are fatigued you’ll end up irritating the tissues. In the worst cases, tendons can become inflamed and sore.
You should ask at your gym or a personal trainer for shoulder strengthening exercises. Using resistance bands can aid strength and also help with recovery.
Stress fractures are usually the result of increasing the amount or load of your training too quickly. When muscles tire, more stress is placed on the bone and if this is done to quickly the bones can’t cope and they become stressed and crack. They are not usually breaks but cracks and will heal, but once you have a stress fracture you usually need to rest up to recover.
Common places for stress fractures in tennis players are the leg (tibia or fibula), foot or back.
Again, prevention of stress fractures is a question of adequate strength training. It is important that you carefully build up your tennis playing and fitness, too. Good footwear is also a must.
Muscle strains for tennis players can occur in almost any muscle, especially the calves, groin, back and shoulders. This is because to play tennis you need to move around quickly and make sharp turns.
Ensure you are properly warmed up before playing. Try a jog and then some dynamic warm-up exercises, such as lunges and squats. Always stretch out muscles after exercise, too. A foam roller can help to keep muscles in good shape before and after exercise.
If you end up with a strain you should follow the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. When the pain has eased you can have a sports massage. Try self-massage too with aids such as BLACKROLL MINI and BLACKROLL Ball, self massage tools that can be used to roll out and get into tight trigger points.
Taping with RockTape can be very useful for helping muscles strains to recover quickly. Look for taping guidelines on-line or see an expert RockTape taper.